After releasing the band’s hard-edged Static Prevails and the more successful Clarity, Capitol Records dumped Jimmy Eat World in the nearest Emo dustbin, muttering that they weren’t ready to be on a major label just yet. The band shrugged it off and after more touring and a pair of indie releases, they recorded Bleed American on their own dime. The band hired longtime collaborator Mark Trombino (producer of the poo-poo ca-ca all-stars, blink-182) to give Jimmy Eat World that ever-so-tasteful silvery edge of electronic programming that makes their meaty guitar-rock all the more palatable. After flipping the bill and snagging some pre-record deal radio play, the majors (including Capitol) were courting again, with Dreamworks winning out and snagging Bleed American.
The way the album touches the skin is more paperback than hardcover and singer Jim Adkins’s voice is more seductive and confident than before. His intonation would make any automatic tuner jealous, yet his usually clean pitch tailspins into a hyperdrive vibrato that sneaks out regularly. Meanwhile, guitarist Tom Linton, who formerly staked out lead duties on a couple songs per album with his dry baritone, has been relieved of his vocal duties and now only reports for guitar and backup. And while the focus on Adkins’s more marketable voice, combined with lighter sounds and some slick Trombino production, makes for a poppier album, a few extra listens reveals that Jimmy Eat World still diversifies the songwriting enough to make this a worthy contribution to their catalog.
In addition, maturity holds the record just above the twin pits of sugar pop and tired rock. However, Jimmy Eat World does not completely abstain from pop cheese: “We once walked out on the beach and once I almost touched your hand/Oh, how I dreamed to finally say such things then only to pretend.” Yet, they demonstrate immense range with tracks like the first single, “Bleed American”: “Salt sweat sugar on the asphalt/Our hearts littering the topsoil/Tune in, we can get the last call/Sign up, it’s the picket line or the parade.” With tracks like these, the band will no doubt attract an audience that ranges from teeny-boppers to middle-aged rock n’ rollers.